Making the World Their Parish

The documentary, “Making the World Their Parish: The Story of Korean United Methodists,” traces the immigration of Koreans to America and the roots and development of the Korean Methodist Church in Honolulu and the mainland of America through rare footage and photos. This video was originally created in 2003 by United Methodist Communications.

Why were so many of the early Korean immigrants Christians?

Beginning in 1884, American Presbyterian and Methodists missionaries successfully converted many Koreans to Christianity, and also provided avenues for the Koreans to immigrate to America—almost half of the first group of Korean immigrants were Christians. Korean immigrants displayed a higher rate of religious participation because missionaries such as Horace Allen and George Herbert Jones played a crucial role in recruiting more than half of the first 102 immigrants from the Naeri Methodist Church in the Inchon Area. The first immigrants who arrived on the S.S. Gaelic to Hawaii were sent to the Waialua Sugar Plantation. The next group that arrived on March 3, 1903 were sent to the plantation at Kahuku. These two groups began to worship together, forming the Kahuku Waialua Korean Mission. That group of Korean immigrants established the first Korean Methodist Church in Honolulu, receiving regular church status by the Hawaii Methodist Mission in April of 1905. Over the years, some of the original Korean immigrants moved from Hawaii to the mainland of America – to major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York. But, where ever they settled, the church continued to be the center of their lives, functioning as a cultural and religious asylum where the immigrants, isolated due to their language and cultural barriers, found comfort. In each of those cities, the Methodist Church was the first Christian denomination to serve the needs of the Korean people.